The story of the Big Help Project
The story of the Big Help Project starts with the founding of Knowsley Foodbank in September 2011, by Dr Barry Cooper. It opened two days a Week with one member of staff and a handful of volunteers. In our first full year, we fed over 3,000 people-one year later this had risen to over 8,000 people. The foodbank operates from ten distribution centres across the borough of Knowsley, with the support of over 100 volunteers and full and part-time staff. In 2016-2017, we processed over 4,000 vouchers to feed 8,000 people-over 50% of these were children.
From the launch of the Foodbank it was always the intention to do more and to address the issues that people are facing in our community and which are driving them to the point where they cannot afford food. This holistic approach led to the opening of Jubilee Debt Advice in November 2012 and Next Steps offering support into employment in July 2013. In 2015 we received funding from the Big Lottery to deliver GetConnected a wider offer of support, making debt advice, support into employment and assistance to get on-line available at each of the ten Foodbank distribution centres. Since 2016, Next Steps has extended further to include Working Futures, a bespoke program, to support for young people aged 16-29 who are not in education, employment or training.
The Foodbank provision has continued to grow alongside all these changes. In April 2013, we became the delivery partner for Knowsley Metropolitan Borough Councils Emergency Support Scheme. This led to increased sustainability for Knowsley Foodbank through new premises, the loan of a van and funding for two members of staff. Most recently, we launched Baby Basics Knowsley, as part of a national scheme gifting new-born essentials to vulnerable mums-to-be.
The Big Help Project of today has grown beyond anything that we could have anticipated at the start. We have been blessed with incredible volunteers, dedicated staff, and support from funders, advisors and the local community. However, throughout all the change and growth of the Big Help Project and Knowsley Foodbank, our core purpose has remained the same: to feed the hungry, without judgement or reservation, for as long as there is a need and to support people in their journey out of poverty.
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